What if those moments of frustration, joy, and emotion could launch a dazzling chain of events that spark joy in your life? How do we integrate a squeaking rubber chicken into a hackathon project? These are important questions that we've finally found answers to.

What it does

The Helpful Cock is a modular environment that creates chain reactions when you display certain emotions.

In practice, we turn on a crown made of Monster can when you're happy, and make a rubber chicken squawk when you're angry.

How we built it

There is a pipeline that connects face detection to emotion detection. In video stream, for each image, we detect the largest face and pass that to the emotion detection neural network which classifies the face into one of six emotion attributes (angry, sad, happy, neutral, etc.). Every five seconds, the detected emotions are binned and sent to a Google Cloud Firebase database,

The motors that we have available are not sufficiently strong to be able to actuate the rubber chicken on their own, so we had to improvise. We use two motors to pull up a glass water bottle with string above the rubber chicken. The motors are mounted to the side of a chair, under which is this entire setup. We've attached an electromagnet to the top of the water bottle, so when it turns on, the electromagnet will stick to the metal bits on the bottom of the chair (more accurately... to a stainless steel cake lifter that we attached with tourist magnets to the bottom of the chair). When the electromagnet turns off and the motors have slackened the string, water bottle violently drops on the rubber chicken, which squawks loudly in response. We call the rubber chicken the Helpful Cock.

The Crown of Enlightenment is a spiralized can of Monster that we molded/hot-glued into the shape of a hairband, covered in delicate string lights.

Challenges we ran into

  • The rubber chicken did not go down without a fight. It was difficult getting everything set up, finding magnets and finding a mechanism to drop/lift the water bottle accurately.
  • Finding the right training dataset for emotion detection - it is skewed towards happy/neutral emotions
  • Somebody blew one of the breaker fuses an hour before the submission deadline, so none of the tables in our area had power

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Rubber chicken!!!! It works end-to-end, too!

What we learned

  • How rubber chickens work
  • Setting up a robust system (ahem)

What's next for The Helpful Cock

  • Implementing further inputs/outputs ... like slapping a banana

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